Essay "UK Border Force – Legitimate Business Or Not?"
“UK Border Force” is a TV series focusing on the daily tasks of British immigration officers. The first episode concentrates on two locations – Heathrow airport situated in London, and the port of Calais. In the following essay, we are going to provide a brief overview of the situations that the members of the border force have to encounter and deal with as a part of their routine work.
To begin with, the first part of the episode focuses on Heathrow, the largest airport in the UK that hosts about 50 000 passengers a day. As we learn from the video, the majority of passengers have some legitimate reasons to cross the country’s borders, such as going back home or travelling. However, some of them try to get into the UK for a number of illegal purposes, which include doing some shadow business or smuggling goods for their further sale.
Thus, an immigration officer, Lisa Lee, is shown doing her routine passenger checks when she suddenly meets a suspicious man. It is discovered that he has been using visit visas to stay longer in Britain. The passenger is accused of overstaying his visa and is brought in another department for further questioning. It is highlighted in the video that immigration officers are very polite and try to find the best solution for both the British authorities and the passengers violating their rights. Accordingly, in the situation with the man above, the passenger is given some time to explain what he’s been doing in the UK all this time. In return, he says that he has a business here, though the officers remind him that he cannot do any business having a guest visa. Anyway, they start checking the data related to his business and are unable to find any contracts or payments with regard to it. Obviously, the passenger is doing something illegal, as there’s no mention of his company being operational. That is why the final decision that the officers take is to decline his visa and refuse his further stay in the UK.
Another case shown in the airport is a visitor from Turkey who claims he has a message for the Queen which has to be delivered personally. The immigration officers find it rather surprising and a bit strange, as all the letters addressed to the Queen can be easily mailed to her. Still, the passenger insists that he is put in charge of delivering the letter to Buckingham Palace. He shows that the letter is sealed, and it might look like a royal letter. So, one of the officers phones the Buckingham Palace and is informed that they expect a visitor from Turkey. The passenger is allowed to enter the country. After being interviewed, he notices that he is ready to comply with all the rules and regulations of the British authorities, though the passenger check might have been a bit faster.
The third case with the passengers at Heathrow is a man from Mumbai, India, travelling with his wife. Their luggage has been searched, and the officers found 18 000 cigarettes and 27 kilos of tobacco in it. The passenger is being explained that smuggling is a serious crime in the UK, and he is going to be deported. After learning that, the man starts crying and saying that he will commit a suicide in case he is sent back home. Now the situation is even more serious than it has been, so the officers try to calm him down and explain his further options: he can either get a political asylum, but he and his wife will be put into a special prison for such cases, or he can be put on the next plane to Mumbai. Having heard that, the passenger agrees that he broke the law, and has to be deported.
Further on, the episode reveals the cases of illegal border crossing and illegal work in the port of Calais. We can get acquainted with the daily routine of an officer, Bridget McCarthy, and her team. After checking a car going through the port, she finds a group of refugees from Eritrea, a young boy and a girl who have hidden inside the truck. Such refugees are called “clandestines”, and the officers’ task is not only to confirm their identities in order to send them back home, but also check their medical condition. The officer is worried, as the young people have been travelling in the refrigerator truck, and might have caught a cold. In addition to that, the officers find a group of Afghanis travelling in another food truck. All of them are young men without any documents, and the officers cannot deport them, they can only send them back to France. The boys seem to be OK, and Bridget is satisfied that nothing has happened to them. Moreover, she believes it is not her business to judge people for illegal crossing, as their life situation might be different, and they deserve to be treated well even though they have committed a crime.
Finally, we are shown a case of butchers working illegally in London. During a regular immigration check, the officers discover that some of them have overstayed their visas, while others don’t have any visas at all, saying that their employer promised to help them obtain their documents. The typical punishment on suspicion of overstaying is an arrest and further deportation. So, some of the men are being arrested and soon released as they do not have any documents, and their home countries cannot be stated. The employer, in his turn, gets a fine of 50 000 pounds and will be closely watched by the authorities.
Making a conclusion, we can say that the work of border officers is quite challenging, as they have to deal with all sorts of people coming into the country. At the same time, they have the opportunity to protect their country and perform their duties by giving people advice on how to solve some really serious problems within the framework of the current legislation.